1. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Depressive character depresses the reader?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Alesia, Sep 4, 2013.

    What are your thoughts on this? Do you think a kind of sullen/depressive character turns readers off, especially when told from an extremely close first person/present POV? I ask because I'm noticing my MC is just so sullen all the time. Like where I am, she's got a huge crush on this girl, and the other girl likes her back, but she won't just accept it and let herself fall in love. Instead, she's been just kind of moping around "she deserves someone better than me, I'm no good, etc.." I dunno, she just doesn't seem to be "developing" any. Ever since Ch. 1 she's been in this sullen, moody rut. From the readers perspective, should I be working harder to bring her out of this personality, or just let her stay moody all the way to the end?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If that's the character, then that's the character. But does she go through an arc? If she's your main character, then the events of the story should affect here in important ways, so that she's a somewhat different person at the end of the story. The story should change her - should teach her something.

    Look at the movie Titanic. At the beginning, Rose is depressed to the point of attempting suicide, because all she sees in her future is misery (despite the wealth her fiance has). She meets Jack, and he shows her a way to a happier life. She becomes motivated to live, to break free of the misery. The events of the story change her for the better. She has a satisfying arc.

    You say your character doesn't seem to be developing. That, to me, is a red flag. If she hasn't developed by the end of the story, then I think you have a problem. You're going to have to give her an arc. The story should change her. Otherwise the reader will likely, upon finishing the book, mutter "What the hell was the point of all that?"
     
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  3. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I wouldn't say they depress the reader exactly. But if there is a clear path of action, and they spend all their time agonizing over the choice the reader is going to get very bored. In the example you gave I immediately wondered how long the MC would stick around before she gave up and found someone else.
     
  4. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    If the depressive character is captured well, she might depress the reader too. That might be okay for some kinds of stories, though probably not what you intended. On the other hand if she seems to be depressed for no reason, if she fails to see what the readers see and to act accordingly, she might become annoying instead, and that's far worse.
     
  5. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Well, she's been through alot. She's the same MC I've been talking about in most of my posts on here. She was a cheery, fun loving little girl, then a kind of a teenage genius and was going to go to med school. Then when she was 17, her father (who she was EXTREMELY close to) died of a sudden heart attack right in front of her. That started the downward spiral. She was fighting with her mother, grieving her father, felt out of place due to her attraction for other women, so she decided to run away from home. At 18 she joined the military and was trained as a medic (her twin brother followed her in a few years later). There she saw the worst things in life, including war, being shot in the lung, and her twin bro fall in battle. (Insert long story about sexual problems that can be found here toward the bottom) That's when she started using heroin to cope and after seeing all this crap, i guess you could say gave up on life.

    So yeah, she's definitely not depressed for no reason.
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Turns readers off?
    Albert Camus's L'√Čtranger anyone? (The Outsider or The Stranger in English), I mean, that MC is so depressing throughout the book, but it's a great novel and I really like Meursault despite his apathy, nihilism, and generally depressive disposition. Not sure if the character is depressed per se, but he's sullen, dark, cold, and no box of cheerios for sure.

    I think what might turn readers off is constant whining and a character's inability to improve their situation. If she just complains how much life sucks, it might get a little old after a while, and instead of getting depressed, the reader would get angry and just want to let your character out of her misery, wish she had died instead of the twin bro. Of course if that's what you wanted, then it'd be mission accomplished -- depends on what you want to achieve.
     
  7. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I think I figured out the problem lol. When I write this character, I have kind of a split personality. I become her if that makes sense, and write in a very close first person/present narrative. That said, I've been having lady issues lately, thinking I'm no good, she deserves better, and so on. Therefore, I think that's transferring into my narrative and that's why I can't get her out of this rut. Really, I'd like to see the two of them pair up, and have this new girlfriend be the catalyst that brings her out of this funky life she's been living for the past 4-5 years, just my brain isn't letting me do it. Well not at a fast speed, anyway.
     
  8. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    As an aside.... writing depress char doesn't always mean writing the char all moping and sulking. Make the readers understand that the char is depressed using minor/major conflicts, sub-plots, plots etc. Once you achieved that even when the char is smiling the readers will feel the sadness inside the char... if that is making any sense.
     
  9. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Although many depressed people are stuck in a depressive rut, quite a few are also struggling to break free of the diesase, so it's not at all uncommon for a depressed person/character to actually work hard on moving on with their life, solving their problems (the sources of the depression as well as other issues in their life), so they don't necessarily have to be static "rut"-characters.
     

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